The Merging of Diversity: Identity in Indonesia

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Professor Bondan Kanumoyoso talks about Batavia, a center of commercial activity set up in 1619 by the Dutch East India Company in modern-day Jakarta, and how the melting pot of cultures it created still has lasting influences today.

For readers in mainland China, please click here.

Read below the speech pronounced by Bondan Kanumoyoso at the International Austronesian Conference, November 28th, Taipei.

The Merging of Diversity:
Identity Formation in Early Eighteenth Century Ommelanden of Batavia

Bondan Kanumoyoso

Abstract

The history of Betawi people closely relates to the history of Jakarta during the colonial period (Batavia). Orang Betawi are the indigenous inhabitants of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. Probably they were the last ethnic that formed among indigenous ethnics in Indonesia. In most of works about the history of Jakarta society, the emergence of Betawi people mentioned briefly. One thing that similar from those works, they mention that the Betawi people were a mixture of many ethnics that lived in Batavia during the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Jan Pieterszoon Coen established Batavia in 1619 as a centre of commercial activity for the Dutch East India Company in Asia. The Company sought manpower from outside of Java since the environs of Batavia were sparsely populated and the local rulers of Java tended to be hostile. During the beginning period of Batavia, Chinese people were invited and encouraged to settle in and around this city as middlemen, traders and workers. Gradually, as Dutch control over the environs of Batavia increased, many other ethnics from elsewhere in Asia were brought to the city. Those Asian people consisted of indigenous militias who worked for the Company, free immigrants, and slaves from South Asia and many other places in Indonesian archipelago. Since they lived in the same geographical area – inside and outside the city wall (Ommelanden) – the integration process among many ethnics in Batavia was inevitably. That is the outline of the Betawi identity's formation in several works about Jakarta history. Even though those descriptions could explain the origin of Betawi people, however the integration process has not been clearly clarified yet. This paper will examine furthermore the integration process among the ethnics which were settled in the ommelanden of Batavia during the early eighteenth century.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:33
Daniel Pagan Murphy (李大年)

Graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA Chinese-International Relations in 2009. He has been living in Taiwan ever since and has been working at eRenlai since 2011.

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